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Sometime over the winter break, we noticed water damage on the dining room ceiling coming from the master bathroom, above. Our house was built in 2017, so I was shocked to see we had some type of plumbing problem in a house barely 6 years old! What a nightmare to deal with – especially around the holidays!

We are fortunate to have 3 full bathrooms in the house, so we stopped using the master bath, and instead shared with the kids or used the guest bathroom downstairs until we could have someone come out to assess the damage and give us a quote.

Bid #1

A general contractor was the first to come take a look. Luckily, his moisture reader did not detect any moisture. He indicated that we’d need to cut a hole in the ceiling in order to diagnose the problem, as there were no obvious leaks or damages in the master bathroom, itself. We asked for a quote and waited….and waited….and checked-in with him…and waited some more. No quote arrived.

Take 2!

This time, we had a plumbing company come out. They took a look, a bit more thorough than the general contractor (removing the shower drain to assess the situation, and removing the tub overflow to check its seal). But all looked good. Again, he told us we’d need to cut a hole in the ceiling from the dining area below to diagnose the problem. This guy seemed very honest. He told us that his company could cut the hole and diagnose the problem, but we’d have to pay the minimum hourly rate of $250/hour (cue: face of shock and horror!). Instead, he urged us to cut the hole and diagnose the issue ourselves. Then we could call back with a specific problem and it would save the plumbers’ time (and save us some money!)

DIY for the win!

We cut a hole in the ceiling and lo and behold… could not be an easier fix. In fact, it wasn’t plumbing at all. Over the summer, the grout at the edge of the baseboard had cracked. It occurred at a time when the seal at the bottom of the shower had failed and a LOT of water was seeping out onto the floor with every shower. We eventually fixed the shower seal so water no longer escapes, but the grout is still cracked right along the edge where the tile meets the wall/baseboard. We never fixed the grout. Turns out, that is where the leak originated. That crack in the grout happens to be above a place where two pieces of drywall met up, and the water settled into the seam, causing the visible damage below.

Best Case Scenario

Since water no longer streams onto the bathroom floor from the shower, this is probably not an active leak. In all likelihood, we’ve probably had the water stain on the ceiling since the summer, and just now noticed it. It’s easily fixed with updating the grout and caulking and something we can do on our own without needing to hire the $250/hour plumbers.  The biggest pain is just going to be fixing the drywall and painting the ceiling to hide the repair job. There is no mold, no actual issue with the plumbing itself, etc.

Catastrophizing Situations

I have to chuckle that it’s such an easy fix. The night before the General Contractor came out, I was fully convinced we’d have to rip up all the tile floor and redo everything. In my head, I had this pegged as a $10,000+ repair that would result in a new tub, shower, flooring, etc. etc. etc. Instead, it’s more like a $100 repair. And that’s if you include the cost of paint! Just for the caulking/grout, it’s more of a $10 repair! Ha! How’s that for blowing a situation out of proportion, thinking a $10 repair would surely cost $10,000+!

In the end, I’m very grateful we can resume using our shower (carefully – just being sure we don’t drip on the floor!) and that we can tackle this repair ourselves without spending an arm-and-a-leg!

Have you completed any major home renovations or repairs lately? What did you fix and what were the costs?

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